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Election 2018: Southern Essex District Register of Deeds Candidate Debate


The North Shore Association of REALTORS®, The Salem Chamber of Commerce & The Salem News Presents: 

Southern Essex District Register of Deeds Candidate Debate

Tuesday, October 2, 2018
6:00 - 7:30 P.M.
Salem Waterfront Hotel

Democrat John O'Brien
Republican Jonathan Ring

This event is free and open to the general public. Doors will open at 5:30 P.M. and the debate will be moderated by The Salem News Editor-in-Chief David Olson. Audience members in attendance will be welcome to submit questions for the candidates.

The Registry of Deeds is responsible for recording real estate transactions for 30 cities and towns across the North Shore. The registry is one of 21 registries in the state, has a staff of 34 employees, an annual budget of $2.85 million, and is located at Shetland Park in Salem.

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Learn more about the Candidates for the Southern Essex District Register of Deeds below:

Candidates Confirmed to Attend: 


John O’Brien
Party: Democrat
Hometown: Lynn, MA
Quick Bio: Register of Deeds (1976 – Present), Southern Essex District
Full Bio: See Below
Website: Unavailable


Jonathan Ring
Party: Republican
Hometown: Rockport, MA
Quick Bio: Sales Associate, Member of Rockport Housing Authority
Full Bio: Click Here or See Below
Campaign Website

NOTE: Independent Candidate David Colpitts declined to attend.


David Colpitts
Party: Independent (Unenrolled)
Hometown: Salem, MA
Quick Bio: Genealogist - Researcher & Analyst
Full Bio: Click Here
Campaign Website


Candidate Debate Sponsors: 



Salem News


Full Bio on Democrat John O'Brien

Grew up in Lynn, MA

Graduate of North Shore Community College.

At the age of 19 John O’Brien became the youngest elected City Councilman in the City of Lynn. He held the office for 6 years until 1977.

In 1976 at the age of 24, he was elected Register of Deeds for the Southern Essex District.  John is the youngest elected and longest serving Register of Deeds in Essex County and was the first Democrat to be elected to the position.

John is past President of the Massachusetts Register and Assistant Register of Deeds Association.

Past President of Project Cope of Lynn, the first of its kind anti-drug association.

In 1998, Register O’Brien launched, becoming the first Registry of Deeds to provide document images and indices for public use, 24 hours a day on the internet free of charge.  

In 1999, O’Brien was awarded the Computerworld Smithsonian Award the prestigious award which recognizes innovative uses of technology that benefit society in Washington DC.  

Register O’Brien was also awarded the Banker & Tradesman 125 Award for his vision and leadership in making the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds the first land recordation office in the nation to provide images and indices on the internet, free of charge for public viewing.

In 2000, O’Brien was named “Public Official of the Year,” by the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks, which acknowledged his Registry’s innovative use of technology to better service his constituents.

In 2005, O’Brien launched the Native American Deed Project.

In 2016 The Essex County Bar Association presented John with The Ronan Jurisprudence Award in recognition and appreciation of his exemplary commitment, devotion and dedication to improve the quality of the administration of justice.      

Resides in Lynn, MA with his wife Sandy who is an attorney, daughter Ashley who is a college student and Welch Terrier Posey.


Full Bio on Republican Jonathan Ring

Born in Rockport and raised in a close knit family, Jonathan learned early on the value of hard work, teamwork, and perseverance. Jonathan's mother along with other family members, immigrated from Portugal to the United States, working hard to give back to America, starting families and businesses in the North Shore area. 

After graduating from Rockport High School, Jonathan attended Salem State University, earning a degree in political science and serving as a student voting member of the SSU Board of Trustees. Jonathan has earned various certificates and awards, including a Certificate of Achievement for Essentials in HR Management from the Society for Human Resource Management, and a Legal Office Support Certificate from North Shore Community College.

Jonathan partnered with his late father and operated his family's used furniture business at an outlet at Todd's Farm Flea Market in Rowley. Jonathan had to wear many hats including procuring new items to sell, managing the inventory and a limited budget, reporting the sales tax to the Department of Revenue, and sales. After closing his business, Jonathan continues to work as a Notary Public, Sales Associate, and manager for a privately owned UPS Store retail outlet, where he learned how to grow sales performance, market products, research alternative solutions to challenging situations, and provide customer support. 

Jonathan was appointed to the Rockport Historic District Commission, where he  worked with the Commission from 2008 - 2013 to vote on applications, research important issues, and balance the needs of individual homeowners while protecting the unique historical character of Rockport's historic districts. 

In 2014, Jonathan filed a citizen bill, with the help of Senator Bruce Tarr (R - Gloucester), bill S1976, an Act Relative to Tobacco Cessation. Jonathan spoke before the Joint Committee on Public Health to testify that adopting this bill will promote tobacco cessation efforts and save lives. Jonathan promoted this bill after his father passed away from a debilitating illness with lung cancer, due to years of tobacco use. (Four years later, thanks to the work of Anti Tobacco activists, language from this bill was adopted and passed by the House Ways and Means Committee:

In 2016 Jonathan was elected by Rockport voters to a five year term on the Rockport Housing Authority (RHA). Jonathan was elected, in 2016, by his fellow board members, to serve as Treasurer of the RHA, and in 2017 was elected by his fellow board members to serve as Vice Chair of the RHA. Jonathan was also nominated by the RHA board to serve as the board's representative on the Rockport Affordable Housing Trust. In June of 2018, Jonathan was elected by his fellow board members to serve as board chairperson for a one year term. 

Issues Jonathan has focused on as a member of the Rockport Housing Authority included promoting more transparency of the local housing authority's finances, supporting a smoke free environment for the RHA, pushing for Tenant representation on the housing authority board, bringing up constituent concerns at board meetings, lobbying for new light installation on Pooles Lane to promote safe night time travel, and, as Chair, coordinating the interviews and hire of a New Executive Director for RHA. 

To learn more about Jonathan Ring you can go to:

Community Involvement

·   Rockport Housing Authority (2016 – Present)

·   Rockport Board of Registrars (2014 – 2016)

·   Rockport Historical District Commission (2008 – 2013)

Educational and Professional

·    UPS Store Sales Associate, Notary, and Manager.

·    Bachelor of Science in Political Science, Salem State University.

·    Certificate in Legal office support, North Shore Community College.

·    Certificate in Essentials for HR Management, Society for Human Resource Management.

·    Audited Ethics in Business class, Gordon Conwell-Seminary.


·    Member of the Cape Ann Sportsman Club, Gloucester.

·    Life-long resident of Rockport, Massachusetts.

·    Mom is a Portuguese immigrant, Dad was a life-long Rockport resident.

·    Brother is an EMT, Fire Fighter, and works for DCR.

·    Big Portuguese family on my Mom’s side.

Election 2018

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